Social media “an essential mode of communication”

In today’s issue, USA Today takes a look at the latest social media trends found in a survey study. The article “Women, young adults are active ‘social animals'” stresses that the group of 18- to 34-year-olds is the most active on social media and that women are much more engaged than men. I was interviewed by reporter Sophie Terbush about the reasons for these trends and the effects on individuals online.

The following is an excerpt from Terbush’s article:

Microblogging has grown 400% since 2009. Sites such as Twitter and Tumblr allow users to upload small bits of content, such as short sentences, photos and video links, and post them on a personal page.

“It’s an incredible community organizing tool,” says Marcus Messner, a social media, multimedia journalism and global communications professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. “Many of these (Middle East) protests would have been much more difficult to organize without social media.”

He cites the use of Twitter by passengers during the emergency landing of Flight 1549 in the Hudson River and by participants in the Iranian election protest in 2009 as two events that put Twitter on the map.

Twitter also helps people “feel that what’s going on in their lives is of interest to other people; everyone can become a little celebrity,” says Richard Lachmann, a pop-culture expert and social psychology professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York.

The most active social media users are 18- to 34-year-olds (82% contributing) and women (78%, vs. 66% of men), according to the survey. Women in their 30s are the heaviest contributors, while non-contributors tend to be older and male.

“If you’re not engaging in social media today, you’re not a communicator,” Messner says. “Every individual today has an online brand.” He uses Twitter and bookmark-publishing site Delicious to communicate with his students and encourages them to protect their online images by using privacy settings and monitoring posts.

You can read the entire article here. The story also ran in the Tuczon Citizen, WLTX (Columbia, SC), Hoama Today (LA), and Daily Comet (LA).

One of the quotes was also used in a story and an editorial of the The Herald in Rock Hill (SC).

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